I let Columbia style me for my camping trip—here's what happened
High UPF hat, shirt, shorts included.
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This past weekend I spent two nights camping at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Florida. It was only my second time camping and to prep for the trip, I spent way too much money on a tent, canopy chairs, tabletop grill, and an excess of food.
But even though I had my camping gear ready, I hadn’t yet thought of what I’d pack to wear for the weekend. (Shocking, I know, given that my job is style writer at Reviewed.) I needed to get my hands on outdoor-ready clothing for a hike that could keep me cool during the hot and humid days, as well as protect against a potential rainy forecast. To help, I reached out to Columbia to outfit me for a weekend of adventuring in the great outdoors. (Ah, the perks of the gig.)
What did Columbia send me?
All of the clothing items that Columbia sent feature a high UPF, are made of quick-drying, nylon-and-polyamide fabric, and have plenty of pockets for storage.
For bottoms, I received PFG Permit III Shorts, which are part of Columbia’s ever-popular Performance Fishing Gear line. They have a UPF of 50 sun protection, a utility loop, multiple pockets, and a 6-inch inseam. For the top, Columbia included the Silver Ridge 2.0 Shirt in a fossil beige color. The shirt features Velcro front pockets, a UPF of 50, and a vented back.
Finally, to top it all off, I received the Bora Bora II Booney hat. The 360-degree brim measures three inches wide, and the hat itself has a moisture-wicking sweatband, a mesh vent, and an adjustable drawcord.
How did Columbia’s clothing perform?
In a word: Exceptionally! I camped on Friday and Saturday night and hiked a trail on Saturday morning wearing all of the items. It was 10 a.m. and already 88 degrees when I ventured out of the campsite to trek a little more than four miles over dirt and loose sand at the park’s Prairie Loop Trail. All told, it took a little under two hours to complete.
During the first 30 minutes of my hike, it was obvious that my outfit was built for summer on the trails. I felt comfortable and surprisingly cool from top to bottom. The PFG Permit III shorts provided enough flexibility to move freely. Not once did I have to pull at my shorts to adjust them, nor did I feel the need to wear a belt. I normally wear a 34-inch waist in men’s bottoms and the size medium Permit IIIs fit snug but not binding, thanks to a partially elastic waistband.
Meanwhile, the Silver Ridge 2.0 shirt kept me from overheating as the day progressed and became muggier. I appreciated the shirt’s back vent for air circulation and thought the nylon fabric was thin and light enough to keep me at ease throughout my hike. I’m a large in most clothing, and Columbia’s Silver Ridge shirt fit me exactly how I prefer—fitted yet relaxed. The button-up style played a vital part in allowing the occasional breeze to cool off my body in the heat.
About an hour—or two miles—into my hike, it began to rain. Usually, this type of weather change annoys me—especially in Florida, where the constant humidity creates sticky skin and foggy glasses without precipitation. I’m happy to report that the rain wasn’t such an issue because I had the Bora Bora II Booney hat. Its wide brim blocked so much of the rain from all angles that it felt as if I were bulldozing through the weather conditions. Rain seemed to bounce off the Booney as I progressed through my hike, and it did a great job of keeping my face dry.
As the drizzle subsided and the day turned sunnier, that brim also admirably shaded my face and neck from the bright rays. The elastic sweatband inside the hat wicked away excess moisture quickly, and because the hat features a mesh vent, my hair was dry in no time. I didn’t have to adjust it, nor did I have to take off my hat to speed its drying.
I also wanted to see how long it’d take for the Silver Ridge shirt to dry after it was completely drenched. During my hike, I pulled out my iPhone, set a timer, and continued walking to record the drying time in the still-cloudy and humid conditions. About 30 minutes of walking later (31:38.83, to be exact), my Silver Ridge shirt was mostly dry and felt cool to the touch. My PFG shorts were also dry in no time. After taking nearly 15,000 steps on a trail, my Columbia outfit performed better than I could’ve imagined.
What was my favorite piece from Columbia?
The Bora Bora II Booney hat is truly my favorite piece, due to its functionality and comfort. It gave me the most protection through all the conditions I experienced on my hiking trip—it stayed on my head when it was windy, plowed through the rain, and kept my head dry and less sweaty. It didn’t matter what direction I was walking or what angle my head was positioned—the wide brim gave me much needed shade from the sunshine throughout my entire hike. I was thoroughly impressed.
What was my least favorite piece from Columbia?
The PFG Permit III Shorts have a fantastic fit and flexibility. I liked these shorts for their shortsness. However, the pockets are an issue—they’re so tiny and shallow that I couldn't even rest my hands inside them, let alone stash any gear or my iPhone. I carried a bag with me to shove my belongings in, which wouldn't have been necessary for my short hike, had the pockets been better designed. These are great-fitting shorts with an unfortunate fault, as they dried quickly in the rain, gave me a flattering above the knee fit, and kept me cool during my trek.
Is Columbia’s clothing worth buying for a camping or hiking trip?
Color me impressed! All the pieces I tried performed well in rainy, humid, and sunny conditions. I’m a huge fan of the Bora Bora II Booney for its practical uses, and I think the piece is a great choice of topper for any hiking or outdoor activity. The Silver Ridge 2.0 Shirt is also a solid option for a top that wicks moisture away while keeping the body cool. The PFG Permit III Shorts, though not my favorite, performed well on the trail, and gave me room to easily move around. I’m happy to say Columbia’s clothing doesn’t disappoint, and the company makes superb functional clothing for summer-ready hikes.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.